Toward earnestness
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Toward earnestness

Roger Ebert takes a stand against snark:

Snarking is cultural vandalism. I have arrived at this conclusion belatedly. I have been guilty of snarking, and of enjoying snarks. In the matter of snarking, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But it has grown entirely out of hand. It is time to put away childish things. I must restore my balance, view the world in a fair way, hope to inspire more appreciation than ridicule. No doubt there will always be a role for snarking, given the proper target and an appropriate venue, and I reserve the right to snark when it is deserved, as in certain movie reviews. But in general I must become more well-behaved.

I see snark as dismissing people or things on the basis of style rather than engaging on matters of substance, and I’m just as guilty of it as anyone. Last night’s speech by Bobby Jindal is a perfect example. The instant reaction on the Internet was that it was the “Kenneth the Page” speech (referring to the character on 30 Rock). But the atrociousness of the delivery aside, the text of the speech was even worse. And it’s more important to confront that than it is to dismiss Jindal for giving a bad speech.

Ebert’s post on snark comes on the heels of John Hodgman’s attack on “meh” on Twitter. I think Hodgman would say that “meh” is for people too lazy to snark.

I wonder if the seriousness of the times are leading to a rejection of the flip and dismissive. It could also be that a new President sets a new tone. Barack Obama is consistently earnest, and I wonder whether he’s leading people to generally take things more seriously. I’ll be interested to see whether this trend expands.

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